As the NFL prepares to do something about the long-running investigation of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, some details have emerged regarding the scope of the review.
Friday’s article by Mark Maske from the Washington Post, which has focused most of its attention on the suggestion that the league begin the formal disciplinary process by recommending a one-year suspension for Watson, also explains that the NFL, through Lisa Friel, questioned “at less” 11 of the 24 plaintiffs represented by attorney Tony Buzbee, “along with other women.” Friel, per Maske, also reviewed “available relevant documents.” Additionally, and as previously known, Friel interviewed Watson for a total of four days in Houston.
It is unclear why the other 13 complainants were not interviewed. Two have emerged only recently. Did the other 11 refuse? Or did Friel decide that their accounts weren’t necessary?
We also don’t know who the “other women” are? Two who filed criminal complaints against Watson did not prosecute him. Eighteen massage therapists issued statements of support for Watson early in the process. Recently, Jenny Vrentas from New York Times reported that Watson received private massages from at least 66 women over a 17-month period.
The term “relevant documents available” could be extremely broad, ranging from all the text messages and social media posts generated by Watson’s various massages to the transcripts of depositions from everyone who testified in the civil complaints case, responses to complaints, and any other documents created by the 24 lawsuits. Friel may also have asked attorney Rusty Hardin to give the league the “package” that was sent to Harris County District Attorney Johna Stallings for transmission to the grand jury. If that was good enough for a grand jury not to indict Watson, Friel should be curious to see how the package characterizes the case — especially if something Hardin said contradicts her own impressions based on diligent review of the case. proofs.
That’s a lot of material to review. To be thorough, however, each document must be reviewed. Something that influences the final decision can be hiding anywhere. This is one of the most fundamental realities of the litigation which includes a wide range of documents. Someone must look for the needles in the haystacks, not knowing that needles even hide among the hay.
One thing that hasn’t happened is that, as Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg told Mike Meltser in a recent podcast interview, neither the league nor the Browns have contacted. The league and the team would surely say they didn’t because she couldn’t tell them anything about the grand jury proceedings. But there is always value in having a conversation. Although she is limited in what she can tell them officially, establishing a good relationship with Ogg – from the start of the process – might have given some useful advice privately.
This is how the world works. How different shapes of sausages are made. If Friel and Ogg (and/or Stallings) had established a relationship that resulted in the development of mutual trust, Friel might have found out why Watson had not been charged. Perhaps, as I believe Ogg and Stallings suspected Watson of doing something he should not have done, they believe it would be impossible to avoid the creation of a “reasonable doubt” by Rusty Hardin and his legal team, and they differed in practical importance to other aspects of the justice system, whether through civil suits or, as Ogg told Meltser, the administrative process.
It’s still unclear what the league will ultimately do. It is unclear to what extent the league has investigated the situation. However, anything less than completely and utterly thorough is not thorough enough, if the league wants anyone to believe that they wanted to make a precise, clear and legitimate decision as to what Watson did or did not do, and what are the consequences. should or should not be.
The fact that more cases are being filed and more information seems to be surfacing makes it impossible, frankly, to know everything before making a decision. That’s why, ultimately, the best decision might be to take a break from Watson’s playing career until the league knows everything there is to know about the conduct that led to 24. lawsuits, two more to be filed, and possibly even more after that. — especially if, say, the belief that the league hasn’t done enough to remedy the situation becomes the catalyst for even more women to sue.